Since birders are prone to pulling over to the side of the road quickly when we see something interesting, thought I should put out a warning on the current conditions along U.S. Hwy 20 in the Santiam Pass area (particularly right in the pass and on the east side of the pass).
Monday evening when my daughter Martha and I were on our way over the pass, we noticed a guy standing by a pickup that was pulled over on the eastbound shoulder. As we passed, we could see that his front right wheel was down in a 3-ft deep gully. So we looped back to help. As I started to pull over, I had to pick the spot carefully since there were several more gullies in the shoulder.
The poor guy (named Matt) said that he'd just bought the truck for about $500 (a 1990 compact Chevy pickup) over in Eugene and was driving back to Redmond when it overheated. He pulled over quickly and next thing he knew, he hit the gully. Luckily he wasn't hurt and his truck seemed to be OK, except it was high-centered on the edge of the gully. He was kind of down on his luck in a number of ways, having just moved up to Redmond from Arlington, Texas, and definitely couldn't afford to call a tow truck.
I found a scissors jack in the rental vehicle that we were driving, and luckily we were able to get it under the frame and start jacking up the corner of the truck that was hanging over the gully, back-filling under the tire with pumice gravel as we raised it up, plus backfilled the gully behind where he'd gone over it with the other front wheel.
Neither of us had a shovel but Martha reminded me that we had a hand-trowel along in case we needed to dig a cat-hole while camping ... plus I had a plastic bag along for trash. It took a while with those pathetic tools, but finally we got Matt out of there and on his way. Matt was extremely appreciative and gave me a bottle of Walmart bottled water which came in handy later during our trip.
I noticed there are quite a few similar gullies along the highway this year. It would be easy to break an axle or worse if you hit one while pulling off the road at any kind of speed. So definitely watch out if you're birding up there and watching for woodpeckers in the burn as you drive by.
I'll be contacting ODOT about this situation too but it could take them a while to fix the problem.